The Augsburg College Women’s Resource Center recently teamed up with the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (MN-RCRC) to host a screening of the film Sacred Choices: Ten new things to consider. This screening took place last Friday, February 20 in the Women’s Resource Center.
The MN-RCRC promotes that “every woman should be free to make decisions about having children according to her own conscience and religious beliefs” and that “people’s reproductive choices are broader when they understand how their bodies function and when they have opportunities to practice decision-making in a safe environment with adults who care about their well-being.”
The documentary Sacred Choices reveals ten new issues for people to consider if they believe abortion goes against their religion. Images of women at pro-life rallies flood the introduction of the film. “Not the Church, not the state, women must decide our fate,” is one of the many slogans chanted by seas of pro-life protesters. Among the notable demonstrators in the film, is Whoopi Goldberg, an avid supporter of the Roe vs. Wade decision.
The topics of consideration range from general religious freedom to the obscure case of a 9-year-old rape victim in Nicaragua whose life is threatened by her country’s religious opposition to abortion.
The film offers a plethora of reluctant testimony from Islamic spiritual leaders, rabbis, Catholic and protestant priests, and nuns. Islamic scholars site verses in the Quran that suggest that a fetus does not have a sole until it is 120 days old, which is significant considering the film also states that 91 percent of all abortions take place in the first trimester. Christian Scholars also defend similar verses in the Bible, but do not site them specifically.
These pro-choice supporting clergy men and women assert that women should be able to choose how they want to participate in their own religion. They also stress that women should be able to make reproductive choices without fear that their church will cast them out. They encourage viewers to think beyond the parameters of pro-choice and pro-life and really examine why they believe what they do about reproductive freedoms.
The film juxtaposes mothers happily holding their babies at morning mass with voice-overs of the Rabbi saying that there are in fact “physical and psychological reasons to justify abortions.” The images encompass the dissonance that many feel when attempting to prioritize religious teachings, parental duty and women’s rights reproductive autonomy.
The audience was all female and many stayed afterwards to discuss personal concerns about the issues mentioned in the film. One point that was stressed in the discussion but not in the film was to education women as a form of prevention. The women felt that if more young girls were taught earlier (like they are in Europe) about sexual responsibility and reproductive responsibility that the number of women seeking abortions would significantly decrease. More literature on this topic can be found in the Women’s Resource Center located in Sverdrup Hall or at www.mnrcrc.org.